Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory

<I>Eurostopodus (Eurostopodus) argus</I>

Eurostopodus (Eurostopodus) argus


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

R. Schodde & I.J. Mason, CSIRO Australian National Wildlife Collection, Canberra, Australia


Caprimulgidae (nightjars and goat-suckers) comprise about 70–83 species in 15–23 genera; three species in two genera occur in Australia. The Australian fossil record to date (1994) is limited to the Holocene-Pleistocene at Koonalda Cave, South Australia, and Pyramids Cave, Victoria; it will probably prove older and more widespread. Almost cosmopolitan, nightjars are most diverse in tropical and subtropical Africa and Central and South America.

Nightgars are nocturnal aerial insectivores that, solitary or in colonies, roost by day on the ground and fly by night with jerky, stiff-winged action to capture insects on the wing by aerial 'trawling' with gaping mouths. Nests are unmade on ground; eggs are buff-toned, marbled or spotted with greys, browns, and blacks, one or two per clutch; young are semi-precocial, nidifugous, downy, unpatterned, and moult directly into a patterned teleoptile plumage; nidificational duties are shared by both sexes.

Family-group Systematics

Following convention, Caprimulgidae are defined here as comprising all nightjars and nighthawks, including Australo-Oriental Eurostopodus Gould, 1838, but excluding the South American potoos, Nyctibiidae, see Stresemann (1927–1934); Peters (1940); Mayr & Amadon (1951); Wetmore (1960); Condon (1975); Wolters (1975–1982) and Schodde & Mason (1981: 113); cf. Hartert (1892) and Sibley et al. (1988). Sibley et al. (loc. cit.) and Sibley & Ahlquist (1990) recorded large genomic distances between Eurostopodus and other nightjars, and separated them at family level (also Sibley & Monroe (1990)). No other substantiating evidence is yet available (1994), so here eurostopodine nightjars are treated as one of the three infra-familial groups in Caprimulgidae, after Schodde & Mason (loc. cit.). These groups are Chordeilinae Cassin, 1851 (New World nighthawks) with four genera, Caprimulginae Vigors, 1825 (cosmopolitan, typical nightjars and goatsuckers) with about 10–17 genera centred in the Neo- and Afro-tropics, and Eurostopodinae Sibley, Ahlquist & Monroe, 1988 (Australo-Oriental eared nightjars) of one or two genera.

Recognition of the first two subfamilies is conventional, see Peters (loc. cit.), Wolters (loc. cit.) and Cramp (1985). Recognition of Eurostopodinae, however, is novel and accepts that the differences between Caprimulgus Linnaeus, 1788 and Eurostopodus Gould, 1838, as found by Sibley & Ahlquist (1990), are significant above generic level, pace Condon (1975). Eurostopodinae are distinguished by their rather pointed wing with remicle (the outermost long primary is usually much longer than the fourth), very sparsely but clearly marked eggs, russet fledging plumages, and sexual monomorphism in combination with a lack of long, thickened rictal bristles. Two of the subfamilies, Eurostopodinae and Caprimulginae, occur in Australia and its territories, each represented by a single genus.

In the ensuing text, the genera are arranged in conventional sequence with those of Eurostopodinae first.

Genus-group Systematics

Eurostopodus Gould, 1838—The two species groups indicated by Mayr (1937) are treated here as subgenera with some reservation. They are un-eared Australo-Papuasian Eurostopodus Gould, 1838 and eared South-East Asian and Greater Sundan Lyncornis Gould, 1838; their distinctions need corroboration. Lyncornis was recognised generically by Hartert (1892) and Wolters (1975–1982), and with a differing circumscription. Note that Eurostopodus was published by Gould in Apr. 1838 and Lyncornis in Aug. of that year (Mayr 1937).

Caprimulgus Linnaeus, 1758—Generic limits and infra-generic groups in this large Afro-American-centred genus are still unsettled, see Davis (1978, 1979); it is inappropriate to address them here.

Species-group Systematics

Eurostopodus argus (Hartert, 1892)—Geographical variation is still inadequately understood, and the identity of material from islands in the Banda and Arafura Seas needs investigation, cf. White & Bruce (1986).

Eurostopodus mystacalis (Temminck, 1826)—This large dark species without enlarged white marks near the tips of its primaries comprises three subspecies: migratory nominotypical mystacalis in Australo-Papua, sedentary E. m. nigripennis Ramsay, 1881 in the Solomon Ils, and sedentary E. m. exul Mayr, 1941 in New Caledonia (Mayr 1941).

Caprimulgus macrurus Horsfield, 1821—Specific and infra-specific status in this polytypic group is still unsettled, see Davis (1978, 1979); Marshall (1978) and Mees (1985).


Excluded Taxa

Vagrant Species

CAPRIMULGIDAE: Caprimulgus affinis affinis Horsfield, 1821 [Eastern Savanna Nightjar]

CAPRIMULGIDAE: Caprimulgus affinis Horsfield, 1821 [Savanna Nightjar; vagrant to Christmas Island] — Stanger, M., Clayton, M., Schodde, R., Wombey, J. & Mason, I. 1998. CSIRO List of Australian Verebrates: A Reference with Conservation Status. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing iii 124 pp. [97]; Christidis, L. & Boles, W.E. 2008. Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Melbourne : CSIRO Publishing 288 pp. [77]

CAPRIMULGIDAE: Caprimulgus indicus Latham, 1790 [Grey Nightjar; vagrant to Territory of Ashmore & Cartier Islands] — Christidis, L. & Boles, W.E. 2008. Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Melbourne : CSIRO Publishing 288 pp. [17]



Slender, broad-headed, soft-plumaged birds of moderate size and camouflaging autumn tones, with gaping-wide mouths and barely projecting, flexible bills with terminal tubular nostrils; body feathering soft, almost downy in defined tracts; no downs other than small powder downs on breast and lumbar region; aftershafts plumed; uropygial gland vestigial, naked. Feet weak, anisodactylous; short tarsi variably feathered, outer forward toe with four phalanges and central claw pectinate; hypotarsus with two open furrows. Sexes similar. Wings long, pointed to slightly rounded, with frayed-edged remiges: 10 primaries with (Eurostopodus) or without remicle moulting in descending sequence, and 12–14 diastataxic secondaries moulting in two groups in ascending and descending sequence to secondaries 7–8; tail square to forked: 10 rectrices moulting centrifugally but outermost shed before penultimate. Nares schizorhinal-holorhinal and impervious, nasal septum extensively perforate; schizognathous palate verging on desmognathy, with attenuately fused vomer articulating with hook-like maxillary processes, palatine shelf broadly winged and entire, lachrymals large and fused with nasals, maxillaries and frontals across inarticulate naso-frontal hinge, and ectethmoids expanded to attach to outer flange of expanded palatine shelf by cartilage; basipterygoid processes well developed; short dentary bone articulating with long supra-angular in lower jaw; cervical vertebrae 14; sternum variably one-notched on either side, only shortly bifid spina externa present, furcula with well-developed hypocleideum. Musculus expansor secundariorum absent, biceps slip present, and M. tensor patagium brevis with wristward slip; pelvic muscle formula AXY, no M. ambiens; deep plantar tendons Type V, fused. Carotid arteries paired. Syrinx tracheo-bronchial, with intrinsic muscles attached to first bronchial rings. Eyes large, tubular, rather side-facing; tongue vestigial, flap-like; no crop; caeca large, club-shaped. Diploid karyotype of 70–76 chromosomes, with five pairs of macrochromosomes.


General References

Beddard, F.E. 1886. On the syrinx and other points in the anatomy of the Caprimulgidae. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1886: 147-153

Bühler, P. 1970. Schädelmorphologie und kiefermechanik der Caprimulgidae (Aves). Zeitschrift für Morphologie der Tiere 66: 337-399

Christidis, L. & Boles, W.E. 2008. Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Melbourne : CSIRO Publishing 288 pp. [77]

Condon, H.T. 1975. Checklist of the Birds of Australia. Part 1 Non-Passerines. Melbourne : Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union xx 311 pp.

Cramp, S. (ed.) 1985. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The Birds of the Western Palaearctic. Oxford : Oxford University Press Vol. 4 960 pp. 98 pls.

Davis, L.I. 1978. Acoustic evidence of relationships in Caprimulginae. Pan American Studies 1: 22-57

Davis, L.I. 1979. Review of recent literature and tape discussions of nightjars. Pan American Studies 2: 20-35

Glenny, F.H. 1953. A systematic study of the main arteries in the region of the heart. Aves XX. Caprimulgiformes, part 1. Ohio Journal of Science 53: 367-369

Hartert, E. 1892. Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Picariae. Coraciae. London : British Museum Vol. 16 xvi 703 pp., xiv pls.

Junge, G.C.A. [Marshall, J.] 1985. Nightjar. pp. 394-395 in Campbell, B. & Lack, E. (eds). A Dictionary of Birds. Calton : T. & A.D. Poyser xxx 670 pp.

Marshall, J.T. 1978. Systematics of smaller Asian night birds based voice. Ornithological Monographs, American Ornithologists' Union 25: 1-58

Mayr, E. 1937. Birds collected during the Whitney South Sea Expedition. XXXV Notes on New Guinea Birds. II. American Museum Novitates 939: 1-14

Mayr, E. 1941. Birds collected during the Whitney South Sea Expedition. XLVII Notes on the genera Halcyon, Turdus and Eurostopodus. American Museum Novitates 1152: 1-7

Mayr, E. & Amadon, D. 1951. A classification of recent birds. American Museum Novitates 1496: 1-42

Mees, G.F. 1985. Caprimulgus macrurus Horsfield and related forms, a re-evaluation (Aves, Caprimulgidae). Proceedings of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie Wetenschappen C 88: 419-428

Oberholser, H.C. 1914. A monograph of the genus Chordeiles Swainson, type of a new family of goatsuckers. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 86: i-vii 1-123 pls 1-6

Peters, J.L. 1940. Check-list of Birds of the World. Cambridge : Harvard University Press Vol. 4 xii 291 pp.

Schodde, R. & Mason, I.J. 1981. Nocturnal Birds of Australia. Illustrated by Jeremy Boot. Melbourne : Lansdowne Edns 136 pp. 22 pls. [publication dated as 1980]

Sclater, P.L. 1866. Notes upon the American Caprimulgidae. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 123-145

Sibley, C.G., Ahlquist, J.E. & Monroe, B.L., Jr 1988. A classification of living birds of the world based on DNA-DNA hybridization studies. Auk 105: 409-423

Sibley, C.G. & Ahlquist, J.E. 1990. Phylogeny and Classification of Birds. A Study in Molecular Evolution. New Haven : Yale University Press xxiii 976 pp.

Sibley, C.G. & Monroe, B.L., Jr 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. New Haven : Yale University Press xxiv 1111 pp.

Streseman, E. 1927. Sauropsida: Aves. pp. in Kükenthal, W. & Krumbach, Th. (eds). Handbuch der Zoologie. Eine Naturgeschichte der Stämme des Tiereiches. Berlin : W. de Gruyter Bd 7, Hft 2 xi 899 pp. [Date published 1927–1934]

Verheyen, R. 1956. Les Striges, les Trogones et les Caprimulgi dans la systématique moderne. Bulletin de l'Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique 32(3): 1-31

Wetmore, A. 1918. On the anatomy of Nyctibius with notes on allied birds. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 54: 577-586

Wetmore, A. 1960. A classification for the birds of the world. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 139(11): 1-37

White, C.M.N. & Bruce, M.D. 1986. The Birds of Wallacea (Sulawesi, the Moluccas & Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia). An annotated check-list. B.O.U. Check-list No. 7. London : British Ornithologists' Union 524 pp.

Wolters, H.E. 1975–1982. Die Vogelarten der Erde. Eine systematische Liste mit Verbreitungsangaben sowie deutschen und englischen Namen. Hamburg : Paul Parey xx 745 pp.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
10-Nov-2020 AVES 10-Nov-2020 MODIFIED
09-Nov-2015 CAPRIMULGIDAE 28-Feb-2020 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)